Palace: SAF 44’s sacrifice won’t be forgotten

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Palace: SAF 44âs sacrifice wonât be forgotten
Police commandos salute in a ceremony honoring the SAF 44 during the National Day of Remembrance at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig yesterday. Forty-four members of the Special Action Force were killed in a clash with MILF fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25, 2015 following an operation against terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, who was slain in the raid.
Krizjohn Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang joined the nation yesterday in commemorating the eighth anniversary of the Mamasapano clash and lauded the 44 police commandos killed in the controversial operation that targeted a known terrorist.

“Today, the 25th of January, we remember the heroism shown by the 44 Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) officers in the municipality of Mamasapano in 2015,” the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) tweeted in Filipino.

“Their sacrifice will not be forgotten and will remain an inspiration to each Filipino,” it added.

Forty-four police commandos died in a lopsided encounter with lawless groups in Mamasapano on Jan. 25, 2015. Troopers from the PNP-SAF entered a bailiwick of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to arrest wanted terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” and his Filipino lieutenant Basit Usman.

Marwan was killed during the early morning operation, which was called “Oplan Exodus.” However, the operation led to a clash that claimed the lives of 44 SAF personnel, 18 MILF members and seven civilians.

In 2017, former president Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation No. 164 declaring Jan. 25 of every year as a day of national remembrance for the “heroic sacrifice” of the 44 SAF commandos who died during the Mamasapano clash.

“I ask all our countrymen to remember the heroism of the SAF 44 and recall the daily sacrifices of our uniformed personnel for the sake of the continued peace and security of our nation,” Duterte said in the proclamation dated Feb. 21, 2017.

“As the nation honors the memory of the SAF 44, their heroism also serves as a constant reminder of the continuing sacrifices being made by our valiant uniformed men and women in the line of duty,” he added.

Appeal to Marcos

Relatives of the fallen SAF troopers appealed to Marcos to give the children orphaned by the Mamasapano incident an opportunity to become police officers.

Their appeal was relayed by Haslyn Acob, wife of M/Sgt. Rodrigo Acob Jr. – one of the elite troopers who perished in the operation – as she spoke at the National Day of Remembrance for SAF 44 ceremony at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

“Since this is what the SAF 44 families want to convey, I’m using my voice to call on and appeal to our beloved President,” said Acob.

“To the entire leadership of the PNP, especially to those serving in the PNPA (Philippine National Police Academy), hopefully our children are given a chance to enter the academy, especially those who wish to follow in the footsteps of their fathers,” she added.

Acob said one of her children is currently an applicant to the PNPA with hopes to serve the country as a police officer.

She noted that her children are still feeling the absence of their father eight years after the tragedy.

Acob also thanked Duterte who, during his term, awarded the Medal of Valor to the slain SAF commandos.

“We are very grateful for all the help of our former president,” she said.

In response, PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said most of the requirements to enter the PNPA are waived if the applicants are children of Medal of Valor awardees.

“The only thing looked into is the medical (exam), but generally, (the) written examination is waived,” Azurin told reporters later.

Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, who was the guest of honor and speaker at the event, lauded the SAF troopers for their supreme sacrifice for the safety of the country and the rest of the world. –  Emmanuel Tupas, Diana Lhyd Suelto


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